When I woke up from the anesthesia after my colonoscopy in 2013, I was told that I had Ulcerative Colitis and that there was no cure. I was told there were treatment options available and we would discuss them next week.
And that was it.
I wish that there was not any more IBD diagnosis. Unfortunately, it is becoming more prevalent and pediatric cases are increasing as well. Every year 70,000 people are diagnosed with IBD. Let’s give these people some hope. I recently found out that the office I used to seek treatment for my Ulcerative Colitis will not hand out the new patient packets for their IBD patients. Free resources that they won’t utilize. This is unacceptable.
was left to my own devices to search the internet and social media trying to figure out what the hell was happening with my body. I was given very little hope and a whole lot of fear. At the time, there were less than 100 hashtagged #ulcerativecolitis posts on Instagram. Now there are over 127,000.
I don’t want anyone to ever wake up to those words again and be left to read the worst of the worst on chat forums on Google. There are so many resources available now, and so many treatment options that remission is possible if you have the right care team and find what works for you. This is why I walk for the Crohns and Colitis Foundation. Come join me on Sunday, October 1st at 1pm at Hawk Island (1601 E Cavanaugh Rd, Lansing, MI 48910) and take a walk with me.
Sign up here: http://online.ccfa.org/goto/hopesparkers
Or if you can’t make it, if you would consider donating I would greatly appreciate any contributions to my team fundraiser.
Thank you for supporting me. I hope to see you there!
Today I bring you, in my humble opinion, the guru of IBD (inflammatory bowel disease): Amber Tresca. Amber is an IBD advocate. She works hard to bring forth the facts about IBD, answer questions and support patients as the navigate the confusing paths that these diseases take us down. She does amazing work on her blog, podcast, twitter chats and all of the articles she writes. Amber is the real deal when it comes to advocacy, and I’m so honored to share a bit about her here. Thanks for participating and all that you do, Amber!
When were you diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis?
I was diagnosed with ulcerative colitis in the fall of 1989; I was 16 years old.
What do you remember most about that day? Looking back, if you could tell yourself one thing about the diagnosis you were about to receive, what would it be?
What I remember most about the day I was diagnosed was that everyone seemed to know the language of healthcare but me–the many questions from physicians and nurses when I was admitted to the hospital were completely foreign. If it were possible to tell my 16-year-old self one thing, it would be that the way things are today is not how they will stay.
In my opinion, you are the information guru for IBD. If you don’t have the answer, you usually can find a trustworthy resource! That’s pretty awesome. What is your favorite part about being an IBD expert?
My favorite part from being an IBD expert is being able to make a difference in people’s lives. There have been many instances over the years where I’ve been able to provide a key piece of information that helped someone with IBD alter their path in a positive direction.
What are some of your other favorite things to do outside of IBD awareness and education?
Outside of my IBD life, I enjoy movies, crafting, playing with my kids, and am an avid reader.
What is something you have accomplished that you are most proud of?
I’m proud of my most recent venture, with is the About IBD Podcast. Podcasting is not something that I had any experience with, yet I leaped in with both feet and my work has been well received.
Who inspires you?
I’m inspired by my children as well as the many IBD advocates and industry professionals that I work with in the IBD Social Circle.
What are some of your coping mechanisms for dealing with stress?
Stress is always a huge issue for anyone with a health condition and my stress relief usually involves spending a day away from work and in the kitchen cooking and baking, preferably for dinner guests.
What keeps you hopeful?
What keeps me hopeful is learning from the many researchers and practitioners whose daily work seeks to better the lives of people with IBD through research and the improvement of patient care.
Do you have a favorite saying, quote, mantra or song that you turn to when you need to flip your mood around?
A mantra that I’ve taken from one of my favorite books, Dune, by Frank Herbert, is called the Litany Against Fear. It’s quite specific to the book but it reminds me to have courage in the face of fear, because fear is transitory.
“I must not fear.
Fear is the mind-killer.
Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.
I will face my fear.
I will permit it to pass over me and through me.
And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path.
Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
Time for rapid fire this or that:
Chocolate or Vanilla?
Coffee or tea?
Hot or cold?
Sweet or sour?
Charmin or Cottonelle?
Neither! Seventh Generation
Dog or Cat?
Running or walking?
Road trip vacation or resort vacation?
Android or iPhone?
Sunshine or rainy day?
Dinner our at a restaurant or a nice home cooked meal?
Doing the dishes or laundry?
Doing the dishes
Comedy or Horror?
Fiction or nonfiction?
Cake or pie?
You’re in the waiting room about to leave after a follow up visit with your GI. Someone else is in the waiting room and they were just diagnosed with a chronic disease. They catch your eye and then ask you “How do I get through this?”
What do you say?
What I would say is that you will get through this because you will not allow it to defeat you. How you feel today won’t be how you feel tomorrow or the next day because you’ll get your spark back, and you’ll find that it shines brighter than it ever did before.
You can find Amber at the links below!
About IBD Podcast: https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/about-ibd/id1228402052
Have you ever come across an Instagram post and just thought, “YES! This is my language! Finally someone is speaking it.” Well, Callie at @riverandquill is this person for me. I found myself nodding my head, smiling, laughing, tearing up and saying OH MY GOSH YES to so many of her interview responses. She has an amazing talent for writing, and I think many of you will find her journey with chronic illness, hope, and grief very relatable. Grab a cup of tea or coffee and settle in to read my interview with Callie to below. Make sure check out her social media and then blog here as she writes about her journey with health and healing. Thank you for sharing your story, and filling others with hope, Callie!
What chronic condition or illness are you currently battling?
I really love your writing on your blog and Instagram posts, you have great voice. What inspired you to start writing about your journey with chronic illness?
I took a break.
I’m not apologizing for it. I needed it and it was enjoyed. Today I decided it was time to come back. I’m refreshed, ready to make some changes, to make some new connections and to offer my story and support for Ulcerative Colitis patients and others.
One of these changes will be Self Care Sunday Chats. While on this break from blogging about my life with Ulcerative Colitis, I’ve been focusing a lot on listening to my body, and acting on what I hear.
Remission is great, but it is tricky. Remission doesn’t mean that my body works exactly like it did before I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis. It is still a different form of life that takes adjusting and getting used to. Some days I feel as though I never had this disease in the first place, and then I have to go into an infusion center to get my medication for 4 hours and I am reminded that life really is different. Some days I wake up feeling great, and some days I’m so exhausted I can barely take my eye mask off my eyes when I wake up. Every day is different, but there is good in every day.
I am well aware of how lucky I am to be in remission. This awareness was part of the reason that I needed to take a break from the community in the first place. I needed to enjoy this moment in my life and focus on the blessing of not having active disease instead of complaining about my past with it. I needed to figure out where I fit in this community now that I wasn’t flaring or trying to find a treatment plan or a good doctor. I have those things. It’s amazing, and it’s taking a long time to get there, and I don’t know how long it will last. I wish all Ulcerative Colitis patients could have these things.
When I was hearing stories of my friends in the IBD community suffering, my heart would just break and I would feel like I needed to apologize for being in remission. There are so many others who were struggling to find a doctor who would listen to them, or who were recovering from surgery without infections or having terrible reactions to medications. I felt like no one wanted to hear about how my medication and lifestyle changes were working or how I had a doctor who actually follows up and takes the time to hear my full story with this disease. I didn’t want to come across as bragging or arrogant. There were articles being tweeted around and polls about how people didn’t want to hear about success stories because it didn’t help them feel better.
Maybe some people don’t benefit from hearing about any positive outcomes from Ulcerative Colitis. I can understand that. And I accept that. We all have different ways of coping or not coping. The reason I’m still sharing my story is because I think about the person who comes out to the blogosphere after receiving a diagnosis. After typing in the disease in the search bar and hitting enter, how many of those articles are going to contain horror stories? How many are going to talk about how it is STILL POSSIBLE to have a life with Ulcerative Colitis? It might be a different life than you expected or planned for, but it can still be enjoyed.
So, that’s why I’m back. I’m back for the people I’ve connected with, and for the people I haven’t met yet who are looking to find out how life can still be enjoyed with a chronic illness.I’m back to share, to support, to connect and most importantly to share the joy I’ve found with this disease. Yeah, there is still no cure. It still is a beast and a terrible disease. But I’ve managed to find joy through it all, and I’m sharing that.
What I’ve Been Up To
My husband and I have set off on our own adventure this year, and started another blog to share our travels. If you’d like to check it out click on the link here: www.mibreakfastadventure.com
He bought me a nice camera for Christmas and I have fallen in love with photography. I’m actually attending my first photography club meeting this weekend and I’m so excited. You can see some of my photos on Instagram @mibreakfastadventure . We have been traveling to various breakfast joints across the state and just exploring those areas and sharing what we find. It has been a blast so far, and we have seen so many beautiful things. I’m truly happier than I have been, perhaps ever.
I’ve stopped trying to force myself and my body to morph into something that it is not made to be. It was becoming easy for me to rush, rush, rush and stress to make everything perfect. Instead of working with my body I was trying to beat it and push it to be “normal.” I can’t beat my body. And it’s not productive or healthy to keep trying to. I have found it more beneficial to care for it, and that’s how self-care Sunday came about.
Self Care Sunday
For these future Sunday posts, they’ll basically just be chats written in the morning about whatever flows through as I’m typing here. I’ll share what I’m doing to care for my body today, and anything else that comes to mind.
This morning I just drank a matcha green smoothie and a gluten-free donut because I’m all about that balanced life. I plan on going for a quick brisk walk in a bit here, quick and brisk because it is about 8 degrees outside with the windchill and I am not all about that.
This afternoon I plan on running through some practice questions for an interview I have on Monday for a new position in my office. I’ll get the laundry done and the dishes put away, and spend some time sorting mail and then maybe color for a little bit. Eventually I will get the veggies and fruits chopped and prepped for the week ahead, and sip on some mint-infused water throughout the day. I might even curl up with a book if it sounds good. Basically, today is about active rest and getting prepared for the week ahead.
I’ve added to my routine the practice of “what is done is done.” After 8 pm, if there are chores that still need to be completed, they can wait because I am now done for the day. I make a cup of hot tea, sit down in the lazy boy and snuggle up with my pets. I might read a book, I might watch a TV show or just listen to some music. I might call my grandma. I might hop on social media. Whatever I feel like doing at the time. After 8 pm, chores and obligations are done. No work, no laundry, no dishes, just restoration and enjoyment. It’s an hour to get my mind right and end the day on a good, peaceful note before heading to bed. It has been so beneficial, I highly recommend it to anyone.
My challenge to you is to test it out this week. Set aside a time for yourself where work or chores are not allowed. Make it work for you. Maybe nights aren’t good and you need to do mornings. That’s okay. Or maybe it’s in the middle of the day. Just take the time. Turn off your phone. Connect to yourself. Try it, and let me know how it goes!
See you next Sunday 🙂
Sorry for the delay, I was away for the last two days participating in a patient panel for Ulcerative Colitis and I could not get the internet to work on my phone so just had to wait til I got home to write.
Day 4: Do you remember the day you were diagnosed? Perhaps you were scared, felt alone and surely you had tons of questions. Write a letter to yourself for the day you were diagnosed, knowing all you do now.
By now you are probably coming down from the anesthesia and are realizing that while you finally have a diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis, you have no idea what that is. The doctor told you to go to the internet to do some research, and I am here to tell you that there is a lot of scary stuff out there, so be careful and cautious about what you read. Start building up a support team, right now. Make sure you have a GI you can trust, a primary care doctor who stands up for you and supports you, a yoga practice that grounds you, and family and friends who will not let you down.
This is going to be the hardest thing you will go through in all the years of your life so far. Your life is going to change. There are going to be lulls and uproars and pits of despair and highs of gratitude. Hang on. You will find a treatment that works for you. Do not despair when something isn’t going right or nothing seems to work. You will find what works for you. You will be sick, but you will heal, and you will have a new appreciation for the good days that you do get. A huge appreciation. Learn coping skills and stress management.
Get on Twitter and Instagram. There are people out there who know exactly what you are going through and they will be some of the best people you meet in your life. Hold them close, they will be huge resources and sources of inspiration for you right when you need them.
This disease is individualized. Don’t judge others for their treatment plan and don’t compare it to yours. Find what feels good for you. ADVOCATE FOR YOURSELF. If something doesn’t feel right, speak up. This is your body. These are your veins. You know yourself best and you have rights.
You are not alone. Life may not be the same, but the new life you get is still pretty damn awesome. Don’t let go, keep fighting and get involved with as many opportunities as you can to raise awareness and change the way chronic illness patients are treated.
You can do this.
Quotation Inspiration. Find a quote that inspires you (either negatively or positively) and free write about it for 15 minutes.
Every great writer has their own process! What’s the blogging process look like for you? Do you set aside time each week to write or do you wait until the inspiration hits? Do you finish a post in one night or use the week to perfect it? Do you edit your blogs or just hit publish? Whatever it is you do, it’s unique to you and we want to learn about it.
I have bad habits when it comes to blogging. When I first started I was posting Hope Warrior stories regularly on Wednesdays and then one other day of my own thoughts. Over the last year, the regular practice of sharing Hope Warriors has fizzled out. I am still more than willing to share inspirational stories, but people are busy. I send out interviews and they don’t get sent back. I don’t like to push people because I know what chronic life is like and I would rather have patients put themselves as a priority than stress about responding to my email.
The lack of participation wasn’t the only contribution to my irregular posting. I also got married in June, so most of the last year and a half were spent planning (I LOVE PLANNING) and enjoying all of the festivities that come with getting married. Life has been good.
I’ve been contacted to partner with more companies and bloggers lately, and that has pushed me to get back in to posting regular content. I’m still working on making updates to the blog and creating a regular posting schedule. I work full time so right now I just post whenever it is convenient. Currently I am on break at work, typing on the WordPress app on my phone. I’d like to get better about editing and learning more about creating cleaner, better posts, but for now getting back into writing is the goal, so I just hit Publish as soon as I can. Things might be a bit sloppy, but I’m writing again and hoping to support others. Right now, that’s what is important to me.
:What?! Three blog posts in one day? This is madness.
Yet, it’s true. In an effort to get back into this and continue to truly try to help others, I’m going to try and participate in this challenge this time. It might not be a blog post every day, so check me out on Instagram because I’ll probably post more there as I’m still learning the ins and outs of WP, and the ‘gram is just easier sometimes.
Without further delay, let’s get started with day 1 of the November HAWMC.
Q: First, Let’s get to know each other! What drives you to write about your health? What do you want other Health Activists to know about your condition and your activism? Reflect on this for 15 to 20 minutes without stopping.
Hi! My name is Jacklyn and I started this blog as a place to share the struggle I was having facing the diagnosis of Ulcerative Colitis. In 2013 I was diagnosed, and by 2014 I was hospitalized as we were not able to manage the symptoms of my disease. Over the years I have tried multiple medications, diets, stress management tools, support systems and everything I possibly could to fight this disease. When I was given the diagnosis, I was told that there was no cure, but the goal was remission and we would try everything we could do to get there. Eventually I was stable enough to start Remicade, and I have been getting infusions every 8 weeks ever since. I am currently in remission.
The physical symptoms of Ulcerative Colitis are terrible. The pain can be unbearable at times and the complications and side effects from medications, all of these things are important in understanding the disease, but that’s not why I’m here.
My mental health had a bigger impact. I was depressed, anxious, angry and grieving my old life. I was 24 years old and I was just starting to begin my adult life. I had dreams and plans and they were all, it seemed, stolen from me because of the diagnosis of this disease. I had no idea how to cope with that. I told one doctor of my anxiety, and she shrugged and said “that must be rough” and moved on with her day.
I started this blog in the middle of this process to convey my struggles, to put words to my feelings, and to show others that there still can be a life with a chronic illness. There may not be a cure, and life may certainly not be what you see on TV or what you thought it would be like, but it’s a life. And there’s good to be found in it.
The whole concept “Flareup Hope” started with a conversation with my dad. I told him I was starting a blog to help raise awareness and to connect with other people who were going through the same thing. We brainstormed, and came up with this because in the deepest darkest moments of my last flareup, what I held on to was hope: hope for healing, hope for getting through one more minute, one more sunrise, one more day. Finding hope has become my mantra. I search for people who are willing to share their stories (message me if you would like to) in order to inspire others to keep fighting. I share my own thoughts and challenges and medical experiences.
I do not claim to be an IBD expert, or an advocate, or to have the answers for you. But I am a real human with Ulcerative Colitis, an autoimmune disease that does not have a cure. I am a patient, a daughter, a spouse, a dog mom, and someone who loves to write, take pictures and go on adventures and starting projects. I have dealt with depression and anxiety and I have grieved the life that my chronic illness stole from me. I’ve developed a sense of gratitude for this new way of living, and I share some of my methods and coping mechanisms for dealing with all the feels these conditions bring.
My mission here is to provide sparks of hope to people that need to keep fighting. It only takes a spark to light up a room.
Thanks for bearing with me on this first ramble of a post. Can’t wait to read everyone’s day one intros!